Posted by: Puma1 | December 27, 2008

Roland Martin is Wrong: Hillary Did It the Hard Way, Caroline Not So Much

Whatever reasons supporters of Caroline Kennedy have for wanting her in the Senate, they should shy from comparing her with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Far from strengthening their case, the comparison that makes Caroline seem demonstrably underqualified, recalling a choice between prime rib and ground beef. Still, the Clinton-bashing media dittoheads and/or left-wing nutjobs are actively pushing the false equivalency: Hillary allegedly traded on a famous name to get to the Senate, so Caroline must be just as qualified as she was.

Margaret Carlson at pushes Caroline by dishonestly asserting that had Hillary “been a Rodham not a Clinton” she would have been “written off as a carpetbagger” and not disallowed to “represent New York” due to “lack of electoral experience.”

Rep. Louise Slaughter lamely defends Princess Caroline’s emergence with another unconvincing Clinton comparison: “You know, who ever said you had to have had elected office before? Hillary didn’t.”

Roland Martin’s jaw dropping commentary for CNN “If Clinton could do it, why not Kennedy?” is the worst of the bunch — attempting to make Caroline’s case with a Clinton comparison so full of obvious bile, half-truths, disinformation, and illogic that it ends up being the best argument as to why Caroline can never hope to fill Hillary’s pantsuits.

Martin starts out by declaring that Caroline is indeed qualified…because anybody who meets the age and residency requirements is qualified. It’s useful to know that Martin would argue Bernard Madoff, Elliot Spitzer, and Plaxico Burress would make excellent Senators since they are over thirty, American citizens, and New York residents.

Worse still, Martin’s petty dismissal of Hillary’s resume – “First lady. Lawyer. Advocate for health care and children’s issues. That’s it.” – is typical of the naked contempt discredited media types supporters hold for her, convincing themselves that her entire life consists of trading on being a Clinton.

They are ignorant to the fact that Hillary’s early career was more promising than Bill’s, that she was just as instrumental as anyone in building the Clinton brand, and that she never wanted Bill’s surname in the first place: a nosy and unforgiving public media would not let her stay a Rodham as she wanted and tried to do.

Allow me to educate Martin and the rest of the Clinton-haters:

Hillary was not born a Kennedy Clinton. She was raised in a middle class Midwestern family and became politically involved as a teen, canvassing for Nixon and Goldwater. She was told girls could not be high school President; instead, she was offered Secretary – the position that did all the work. She took it.

At Wellesley – a prestigious all-girls college – Hillary majored in political science and was president of the Young Republicans. Like many Americans, 1968 was transformative for her. She was elected student body president. Devastated by MLK’s assassination, she organized a strike and pushed for campus integration. She left the GOP after attending its 1968 convention, disturbed by its subtle racism and marginalization of moderates. Student pressure forced administrators to make Hillary the first student commencement speaker in Wellesley history. Her speech prompted a seven minute ovation and an appearance in Life magazine.

After graduation, she worked her way across Alaska, washing dishing and sliming salmon. She was fired for crusading against unhealthy conditions. At Yale Law, Hillary edited the Law Review, worked at the Yale Child Study Center, took on child abuse cases at a local hospital, and offered free legal advice to the poor at the local Legal Services. She worked in D.C. on the Subcommittee on Migratory Labor (1970). She and boyfriend Bill Clinton campaigned for McGovern in Texas in 1972. Her first scholarly article published in the Harvard Education Review (1973) established her as a cited children’s rights expert.

As a young attorney, Hillary accepted positions staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund and as a consultant for the Carnegie Council on Children. She served on the Watergate impeachment inquiry staff under the House Judiciary Committee, but she fatefully failed the D.C. bar exam in 1974. This disappointment prompted her to leave D.C. and join Bill Clinton in Arkansas, where they married. In 1976, Hillary helped coordinate Jimmy Carter’s Indiana campaign. The next year she co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Within two years, she was the first female full partner at Rose Law Firm. President Carter appointed her to the board of the Legal Services Corporation. As board chairwoman, she successfully thwarted President Reagan’s attempts to cut funding.

While First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary chaired the Rural Health Advisory Committee, securing funds for health care in disadvantaged areas, and created the state Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth. As chair of the state Educational Standards Committee she won a protracted battle to raise education standards. For eight years, Hillary intermittently chaired the board of the New World Foundation, a liberal funding group. She also chaired the Children’s Defense Fund, the Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession for several years, became Wal-Mart’s first woman board member, and was twice named one of the nation’s Most Influential Lawyers by the National Law Journal.

As First Lady of the U.S., Hillary’s power was such that enemies complained she was co-President. She proved her toughness in weathering Whitewater and impeachment scandals. Her health care reform bid failed, but forever fixed the issue in the public zeitgeist. She hosted White House conferences on child care, childhood development and learning, adolescents, and teenagers. She was instrumental in the passage of the Children’s Health Insurance (1997) and the Foster Care Independence Act (1999), and she helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the State Department. At the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Woman – under pressure to appease the Chinese government – she refused. In a forceful speech, she famously declared human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” Those words still rally advocates for oppressed women worldwide.

Hillary was not appointed to the Senate. She campaigned in every county, personally listening to the concerns of New Yorkers. In the process, she won over voters who thought they hated her.

So in answer to Roland Martin’s question: Rodham-Clinton did it the hard way, Kennedy has not. In the absence of middle class roots (like Hillary), what in Kennedy’s breeding indicates she has won the respect of working folk by speaking to their concerns (like Hillary)? Roosevelt heir Franklin Delano was no working-class stiff – but while vacationing in Warm Springs he spent countless hours driving through rural Georgia, talking to people, no doubt dreaming up solutions to their trouble. What are Kennedy’s concerns? Has she ever been inclined to slime fish and wash dishes in Alaska (like Hillary)? By her own admission, she endorsed Obama because of inspiration. Is she a giant in any policy area – like, say, health care (like Hillary), women’s rights (like Hillary), or child advocacy (like Hillary)? Where are the dozens of successful initiatives she founded/created/pushed (like Hillary), the boards she chaired (like Hillary), the honors she’s received in her legal, advisory, activist, and legislative careers (like Hillary)? Where are her wounds and wisdom from battles lost and won (like Hillary)?

Hillary is the architect of a dynasty – not its entitled heiress. Hillary did far more to merit election than Princess Caroline of Schlossberg has ever done to merit appointment. The comparison is half-baked.

As to Roland Martin’s unprofessional directive that Clintonistas opposed to Caroline should “get the hell over it,” as long as the media continues to disrespect Hillary, we will never stop demanding she be given the respect she has earned. Get over that!



  1. Hargrove: are yousure she”wrote” those books? check yourself. As for raising money, since when is that a qualification? when someone comes from a monied family, former first daughter, married to money, raising money is no big deal. By the way, you are a Hillary hater. just read your comment, it speaks for itself.

  2. You mentioned a lot of Hillary “achievements, but what quantitative value can you point to from anything she’s done? For example, you say that “as chair of the state Educational Standards Committee she won a protracted battle to raise education standards.” What battles did she fight? What happened that was a raise in standards? That’s the story of Hillary “achievements,” a lot of words, but no substance. Caroline Kennedy actually wrote books and raised the money. What she did translates to measurable value.

    I am not a Hillary hater, but I don’t like her.

    • For example, you say that “as chair of the state Educational Standards Committee she won a protracted battle to raise education standards.” What battles did she fight? What happened that was a raise in standards?

      Lord, there’s just no stopping you people. First they claim she has no achievements. Then you give them a list of achievements. Then they claim the achievements are empty and want a fifteen page report.

      Okay, one battle she fought was against the Arkansas teacher’s union. They didn’t want mandatory teacher testing. She did so as the raise the quality of teachers. She was successful in securing mandatory teacher testing for new hires. Education standards she raised in Arkansas? She advocated for and got reduced classroom size standards in order for more student-teacher individualized attention. During the process of all this reform, she held public hearings in every country of the state to hear from the people. She worked also with the state legislature to change courses taught based on public outcry in these hearings.

      Okay, so how are you going to diminish Mrs. Clinton now? I know you’ll come up with something, so what more do you need? Do you want printed copies of the bills and resolutions? Signed affidavits from the people who worked with her on these initiatives? What? What will it take?

      You and I both know that you hate Hillary Clinton, have decided she has achieved nothing of substance, so any proof offered will never be enough no matter what she does. So why bother? You obviously have never researched into Hillary’s career yourself, or else I wouldn’t have to set you straight. You’ve clearly never read any of the hundreds of books or articles about her life and long career, preferring to regurgitate talking point from Rush Limbaugh, Daily Kos, and Chris Matthews. So rather than belabor the point, you should go about your merry life pretending she’s accomplished nothing in thirty years of public service; meanwhile, the rest of the country — having learned to admire her too late for her to win last year — will go on admiring her.

      Have a good day!

  3. When it comes to Roland Martin, it’s best to think of Earl Landgrebe; don’t confuse him with the facts. Even without the merit comparison, Martin’s argument falls apart with the selection/election difference.

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